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Domestic Shorthair Cat Facts

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gray stripe domestic shorthair tabby cat resting in a maroon cat tree bed

There is just no end to the variety of Domestic Shorthair cats, which can come in a multitude of colors, shapes, and sizes. They also make wonderful family pets. It’s said that there are over 80 million Domestic Shorthair cats in American homes. That’s not surprising when you consider that these cats are often friendly, low maintenance, and pretty healthy.

What Is a Domestic Shorthair?

Domestic Shorthair, or “moggie” in the United Kingdom, does not refer to an actual breed. These cats have mixed ancestry, which can vary from cat to cat, not unlike Mixed Breed dogs or “mutts.” While some Domestic Shorthair cats may look like a particular feline breed, any resemblance is more a coincidence than a genetic identification.

And don’t confuse Domestic Shorthairs with the American Shorthair cat. This is an easy mistake to make since they can have similar physical attributes, like a muscular build. However, the American Shorthair is a recognized breed and does not have the same genetic composition as the Domestic Shorthair.

Domestic Shorthair Cat Breed History

It’s thought that cats were originally domesticated in Egypt around 2000 B.C. It’s also believed that they were brought over to the United States on the Mayflower to help control the rodent population on the ship.

Domestic Shorthair cats were considered hard workers who were good at capturing prey, so they were kept around as pets and barnyard cats while the Pilgrims settled into the new land. The American Shorthair breed developed from these original cats brought from Europe.

domestic shorthair tabby cat hiding behind a cat tower

Popular House Cats

As mentioned, Domestic Shorthair cats make great family pets and are even referred to as “house cats.” They’ve also been called “alley cats,” although that term tends to have a negative connotation. These nicknames can make these cats sound quite generic, but they each have their own unique look and personality.

Domestic Shorthair Physical Traits

Domestic Shorthairs can come in a seemingly infinite number of colors and patterns. Maybe not purple or plaid, but you can find them in brown, tan, white, black, red, orange—and the list goes on. In addition, they can be mostly solid in color, bicolor, tricolor, tabby, etc.

Their eyes can be a variety of colors too. They can be blue, green, brown, hazel, or two different colors, which is a striking look for a cat. The typical Domestic Shorthair cat weight can vary, anywhere from 6 to 16 pounds. Males are also typically larger than females.

Despite these differences, they can share some general similarities, such as:

  • Muscular body types
  • Rounded heads and paws
  • Medium length tails

So how long do Domestic Shorthair cats live? They are generally healthy cats with relatively long life spans. The expected Domestic Shorthair cat lifespan is anywhere from 12 to 14 years or more. That’s not to say they can’t get hurt or sick unexpectedly or that they don’t need routine wellness care, like regular exams and vaccines.

Domestic Shorthair Personalities

The personalities of Domestic Shorthair cats can be as varied as their appearance. If you ask someone who owns one of these cats, they may say that they are quiet and reserved, quirky and fun, strong and independent, sweet and clingy, daring and adventurous, sassy and clever, or a mixture of all of these depending on the mood you catch them in.

Caring for Your Domestic Shorthair

Another reason that Domestic Shorthair cats are great family pets is that they are relatively low maintenance. They typically groom themselves well and have short to medium-length hair. That means you don’t need to give their coat too much attention, although regular brushing is still important to keep their fur in top shape and cut down on those nasty hairballs.

When you bring home a Domestic Shorthair cat, be sure to visit your veterinarian soon after you’re settled. If your new feline friend is a kitten, you should go to the veterinarian within the first week.

Talk to your veterinarian about the best way to care for your cat, including proper nutrition, exercise, and recommended wellness care treatments, like vaccines. You can check out our infographic for more on your kitty’s first veterinary visit.

You should also plan to keep your Domestic Shorthair cat indoors. Our strategic partner The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®) recommends that all cats be kept inside where they are safer from accidents, encounters with other animals, parasites, and contagious diseases, like feline leukemia. Domestic Shorthair cats are also known to be hunters, so you’ll also be helping to preserve small birds and other wildlife (not to mention avoid small furry “presents” at your doorstep) by keeping them indoors.

orange domestic shorthair tabby cat lying on carpet next to a Christmas tree

Domestic Shorthair Health Problems

These felines tend to be a healthy lot. However, they may be prone to overeating, which can lead to obesity and the constellation of health problems related to carrying extra pounds. Obese or overweight cats can suffer from joint pain, back issues, liver and kidney problems, heart disease, and illnesses like diabetes.

Feed your cat a healthy diet and measure out portions to help avoid giving too much at one sitting. It can also be helpful to feed your cat at set times rather than leaving food out to be grazed on whenever she feels the urge to eat. Keep an eye on those treats too! They can contain a lot of sugar and unhealthy fats, which can pack on the pounds before you know it.

Top Claims for the Domestic Shorthair

Like any cats, Domestic Shorthairs can get all kinds of ailments, such as ear mites, skin disorders, upper respiratory infections, hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, or cancer. They also don’t always land that four-paw jump off the kitchen counter!

Here are some of the most common pet health insurance claims** for Domestic Shorthair cats:

  1. Vomiting
  2. Hyperthyroidism
  3. Tummy Upset
  4. Kidney Disease
  5. Diabetes

Cat insurance can help you manage the costs of all these issues as well as the routine preventative care your cat needs. After all, surgery for removing a swallowed string can get expensive—believe me, I know!

Adopting a Domestic Shorthair

One thing you should know about Domestic Shorthair cats is that there are lots of them out there in shelters waiting for loving homes. If you’re thinking about getting a cat, consider visiting a local shelter to find your new feline friend.

After adopting your new pal, it is crucial that you spay or neuter your cat. It not only cuts down on unexpected litters, but it can also protect your cat from serious diseases like ovarian and testicular cancer.

Visit the ASPCA’s website to find a shelter in your area. Also, find out what you need to know about bringing home a new kitten, from the adoption process to basic kitten care.

**Source: Internal Claims Data, 2015-20

The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.

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